Playing House

I experienced church yesterday,
One close by, one far away,
Another on the ropes
The taste of hope
Unfamiliar on her tongue-
Her praises yet unsung.
Years I practiced trimming wicks
Negotiating the internal matrix
Within solid doors and stained panes
Where we mostly stayed unchanged-
It was a thing we were building,
A room we were crafting, filling,
Delineating structure,
Barricading against rupture.
We struggled against our blindness and pride,
But it was better than being outside.
The last ten years, or more,
Love and grace cracking the door,
I’ve seen it unfurled all around:
Hands clasped, feet on the ground,
And our church is the praise we lift,
The sudden rejoicing at the gift
Of unity in our shared obedience-
Fulfilling, not negating, prior experience-

I used to play at it alone,
Then aside my brothers,
Now I see: it’s not complete
’Til we reach out and share with others.

Joyful Tenants

Should I endeavor such a difficult labor
As writing of my delights?
Children’s smiling, sleepy faces
Curled up in the night
As I read to them in open wonder
Hanging on every breath:
My joy beyond all bounds,
Gratitude beyond all depths
Or persevering through frustration,
Teaching through tight contention,
Until the surge of glee as
Confusion dissolves into comprehension.
Or of watching my husband,
The soul of my soul,
In the prime of his integrity,
His dignity intact, whole-
His spine reinforced
By the character of his loyalty
The measure of his sum
Equal to any royalty
And he stands in broad shoulders,
The regal strength of his arms
Cradles our wee ones
Past all their alarms.
We laugh through storms,
Elated by our company.
Our home exists in love,
Abundant joy, and harmony.

And whatever disparity
Birthed my days,
Whatever I process
In verbose waves,
None of it lives here;
I was cast away,
And now I live in a world of delights
Far removed from yesterday’s casualties.

Hope > Despair

In You, I am complete
While ever in deconstruction
I swallowed defeat
But not destruction
You have lavished mercy-
I search Your instruction.
You’ve inscrutably chosen me,
And written my introduction;
I eagerly read on.

You surrounded
My petty despair,
My fears unfounded,
With others who care-
To Your glory redound
The unity we share.
May the world be astounded
By the work You’ve declared
And expounded

Accomplished by fiat,
and kneeling intervention.
Grace beyond grace-
Love beyond comprehension!

On Being Forward

When the steady, monochrome rain
turned the often choppy bay
into a barren plain
and the ducks and geese lay low
drifting, ruffling, dripping
in some abandoned cove
while the deer wandered, sipping heavenward
Time brushed by me in passing,
and this, his indiscretion, stirred
a presentiment of trespassing here-
tuned to an unknown, irregular frequency
lost when the world runs clear-
but for one moment stolen between eternity

and now.

Pot-bellied Burn

Whether a soul is birthed
Or forged
Who can say?

Yet between those prosaic amblers,
Those who gambol through the race,
Always remarking in kind,
“What a lovely day,”
And “The early bird gets his worm,”
For whom their IRAs,
Their endgame plans,
Stretch no farther in imagination
Than the angle of repose.
Of those I have very little to say…

But the others between
As one out of pace,
Out of country, out of tune-
Who burn like furnaces
Churning their influences
Into solid states-
Whose collars smell
Of woodsmoke, of bootblacking and waste
No open air or sea
Who taste of sap,
Of antiquity and ideas-

Of these
I am gripped by sudden
Recognition, a filial fealty,
And the aching awareness
Of the vast impermanence
Of all things.

Giving Up or In

Father, remove Your displeasure-
I will follow as You lead,
But I must see the measures
As I am given need-
Do not count against my offspring
The frailties of my heart-
Nor let my pungent offerings
Cause Your Spirit to depart-
I am dust.
Born of dust, struggling the same
To learn the mysteries of trust,
Or the power in Your name-
Remember my frame and constitution.
I shall not linger long,
Even in remonstrance and restitution,
I’m a flitting, failing song.
Man has caused me many fears,
Bruised flesh and crimes against my core,
But I am still here,
And my greatest fear is Yours.
Who are we, and what are we,
To mingle our intrinsic fault
In Your dynamic activity-
When what remains is to exalt-

Only never leave me alone-
My soul is still crippled
From the mold in which I’ve grown-
Cruelty shaping in ripples-
I am tired, decades in,
Struggling to reconcile
The powerful, holy cadence
Indwelling our squirming bile
And this vile mass of flesh,
Of which I am full member
Begs to be refreshed,
Redeemed, remembered-

In my mother’s blood, in my sin,
You died for me.
Deal in kindness once again,
Gently set me free

So I may see,
With no misgivings,
Your goodness here
In the land of the living.

On the Wing

I cannot be sure,
But tonight may be the night I quit.
I don’t think I’m even being obedient anymore,
Just obstinate.
Maybe I deceived myself before;
Maybe now I’m throwing a despondent fit:
Both can be equally ignored.

I cannot do it alone-
And why would I without You in it?
Yet for a moment between groans
Hope was upward-winded
But not yet flown
More than tongues and tenets-
Standing in flesh, and feather, and bone-

And I believed.